BALTIMORE (WJZ) — For 4-year-old Camdyn Carr, it started with a common sinus infection, but it quickly turned into something worse.
“He couldn’t move his right arm. He said, ‘Daddy, I can’t scratch my nose,’ and by the time we got to UVA, which is an hour and a half drive, he was completely paralyzed,” said his father, Christopher Carr.
It’s called acute-flaccid myelitis, or AFM. Symptoms are sudden arm or leg weakness, difficulty moving facial muscles, slurred speech and trouble swallowing.
Camdyn is being treated for AFM in Maryland.
There are five cases of AFM in Maryland. A doctor at Kennedy Krieger told WJZ that their hospital is treating two possible cases.
The disease made headlines recently when news broke of cases in Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Iowa and other states — and 38 cases were confirmed nationwide this year.
“A polio-like disease because in the sense that it does involve the same areas in the nervous system,” said Dr. Cristina L. Sadowsky, clinical director for the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury, with Kennedy Krieger Institute.
It’s believed to be a virus, but has yet to be identified. Kennedy Krieger Institute is a national leader in treatment.
Two years ago, 7-year-old Sebastian Bottomley’s cold turned into AFM.
Rigorous physical therapy to keep nerves connected to muscles has made a difference in the disease.
“I can walk, I can move my arm and I can like, kneel, and I can scooch on the floor up and down stairs,” Sebastian said.
“Restoring activity, normal or as close to normal activity in the nervous system, is what we use to restore day to day function in these children,” Dr. Sadowski said.
According to Sebastian’s father, Jarrod Bottomley, he can now sit up, feed himself, take care of himself and get dressed on his own. He said it is tremendous progress.
Camdyn is about to begin the same journey.
“I know it’s going to be a long, hard road,” Carr said. “But I’m willing to do whatever I can for my son. So, it definitely gives me hope,”